Tricky indeed. I've worked on many public building designs. Community centers, recreation centers, libraries. One time my team was told that our proposal looked too good. The city did not want the perception that they were spending taxpayer funds frivolously. So instead of getting a building the town could perhaps be proud(er) of, they were given something not as good in my opinion.
This is a different sitation though. It would be cool to watch a man-on-the-street type of interview to see how Notre Dame symbolically lives inside the minds of everyday Parisians.